The People of DevOps: Developing a Culture of We

Feb 092017
Startup Business People Working on Laptop
If you’re contemplating DevOps, everything starts by examining and possibly overhauling your organization’s culture. Use our Guide to the DevOps Culture to see the necessary changes and key people you’ll need to make it happen.

DevOps takes the old ‘me’ culture and turns it on its head.

For years, the key to IT success was specialization. Finding individuals with the skillsets you need and giving them a clear path to reach their goals. Now, DevOps flips the culture of ME into a culture of WE – how can WE succeed, how can WE produce software faster and easier, how can WE be sure the project is successful at every stage of development? If you’re contemplating DevOps at your organization, you need to think about your organization’s culture – to create an environment where these new values can flourish.

It’s time to clean out the old methods and bring in the new. Here, we outline a few key changes you’ll need to make to build and sustain a successful DevOps culture, and the key people it will take to make this culture work.

Old: Siloed teams
New: Integrated teams
Key people: Leaders who champion the culture, help build a collaborative environment, and help set common goals

Colleagues Meeting
Startup Business People Working on Laptop

Old: Function-specific goals
New: Team goals
Key people: Team players who think beyond their own area of expertise, understand others’ responsibilities and share knowledge

Old: Competition / zero-sum mentality
New: Collaboration / win-win mentality
Key people: Polyskilled workers who understand each other’s functions, develop similar skills, work toward common goals, and share accountability

Old: Linear, waterfall development
New: Continuous, agile development
Key people: Continuous learners who gain from experience and improve processes for faster, more accurate results

Old: Function-speaking training
New: Shared learning
Key people: Internal teachers who pass on knowledge through transparency and “blameless” post-mortems, and encourage organizational learning

Will all your people fit in this new environment? Probably not. The territorial, the blame-shifters, and the political animals will not do well in this new world. For them, everything is zero-sum: for me to win, you must lose. With that mentality, segregated teams often sabotage each other to come out on top – even if the overall project suffers. DevOps makes everyone responsible and accountable for a project’s success. And it’s the DevOps culture that supports this effort – by rewarding polyskills development, organizational learning, and continuous improvement. The good news is that making the cultural shift to a DevOps culture can result in a more fun, satisfying work environment.